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Denon AVR-X1700H Review: Get connected

Denon AVR-X1700H Review – Denon’s entry-level X Series AV receiver is also its most advanced in terms of HDMI connectivity. Go figure, says John Archer

Thanks to problems with first-generation HDMI 2.1 ports, the last year was unusually tumultuous for the AV receiver and amplifier world. The late arrival of Denon’s AVR-X1700H (sold in the UK exclusively through retailer Peter Tyson) therefore turns out to be quite handy.

Certainly I can say that the X1700H’s HDMI setup is now a key strength rather than a cause for consternation. For starters, three of its six HDMI inputs handle the latest gaming features of 4K at 120Hz, variable refresh rates, Quick Frame Transport, and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). There was only one such input on Denon’s first generation of ‘8K capable’ AVRs, from the flagship X6700H [HCC #316] down to the X2700H [HCC #320].

You can now, to be fair, buy a Denon AVS-3 HDMI switching box that lets you connect three HDMI 4K/120Hz devices to these older, otherwise more premium models. But you’ll have to find an extra £ for it, not to mention accommodate another box in your system.

Another great thing about the X1700H’s built-in HDMI 4K/120 or 8K/60Hz connections is that they work right out of the box. The 40GB capacity of the ‘8K’ ports handles everything it’s supposed to, including 4K at 120Hz feeds from the Xbox Series X that wouldn’t work on the single HDMI ‘8K’ ports of Denon’s 2020-released models until an all-new production run began in May 2021.

av info
PRODUCT: Entry-level seven-channel Atmos/DTS:X AVR
position: Denon’s most affordable X Series receiver
PEERS: Yamaha RX-V6A; Denon AVR-X2700H

The X1700H, which launched in October 2021, is confident enough about its HDMI prowess, in fact, to display detailed information on the HDMI signal it’s receiving. This is very helpful when it comes to knowing if everything is working as it should be.

1. The front-panel mic input enables the amp’s Audyssey auto-EQ calibration

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Denon AVR-X1700H Review

2. The X1700H has the same uncluttered styling as its X Series stablemates

All of the receiver’s six HDMI inputs support 4:4:4 chroma sub-sampling; the full family of current high dynamic range formats (HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma); 8K upscaling; and the eARC system for receiving lossless Dolby Atmos/DTS:X sound from connected, compatible displays. All feed into a single HDMI output.

Given the rise of interest in vinyl, it’s not much of a surprise to find these cutting-edge HDMI ports being joined by a ‘retro’ phono (MM) input. Other back-panel connections (there’s a USB hookup and headphone socket around the front) include coaxial and optical digital audio, Ethernet and twin subwoofer pre-outs.

Note you can spend £ more to get an X1700H with built-in DAB radio.

As you’d expect of a modern seven-channel receiver, even a relatively affordable one, there’s support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (in a 5.1.2 configuration), plus DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization options for people who don’t have height/upfiring speakers. Calibration comes via the Audyssey MultEQ XT system, using a supplied microphone, while Denon’s usual installation wizard is ready to guide you through setup.

This will likely include establishing a network connection, either wired or wireless. Do this and there’s the multiroom HEOS system to make use of, with its integration of streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal, plus Apple AirPlay 2 and DLNA playback of music files including ALAC, FLAC and DSD 2.8/5.6MHz. Bluetooth provision is two-way, meaning the receiver can be used with wireless headphones, and the X1700H’s modern outlook is rounded out by support for all the main voice control systems.

1

Eager to please

The X1700H is the entry level model in the X Series, despite its fancy, up-to-date HDMI stage. So: will fans of its trio of 8K-capable HDMI inputs have to swallow a sound quality compromise? Probably not if they’re coming from a previous, budget seven-channel model, perhaps even Denon’s own X1600H. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X mixes here sound clean, full of detail and nicely steered, creating a soundstage with enough scale to satisfy multiple seating positions in at least a mid-sized movie room.

The dynamic range is good too. Peak trebles sparkle and shimmer without sounding harsh or fragile, as shown by the shattering glass and jangling headgear in the drum­dance sequence in House Of Flying Daggers (Blu-ray). The receiver’s voicing also give bass a punchy and lively feel, adding to the sense of cinematic drama as bombs land with different levels of whoomp during Schofield’s final battlefield run in 1917 (4K Blu-ray). Objects and transitions hurtle around the room with believable precision, too, without sounding artificially exaggerated.

Denon AVR-X1700H Review

3. Hit the yellow ‘Pure’ button and the AVR turns off its exterior display and interior analogue video circuits in a bid to limit noise

There’s a limit to the volume this AVR can hit before a touch of brittleness and a slightly ‘electronic’ feel starts to creep in, but this is at levels likely beyond the comfort zone of most people’s ears/close neighbours. In short, there’s really nothing about the X1700H’s movie or Dolby Atmos/ DTS:X game performance that throws up enough weaknesses to disrupt your immersion.

‘Multiple cutting-edge HDMIs that actually work plus a good all-round performance – a great value AV receiver’

Of course, if you have a speaker system that does its best work with plenty of dynamic power, or a system that supports more than seven channels, then it goes without saying the X1700H won’t be your cup of tea. And while trebles and detailing are good for the money, you won’t feel quite the same precision and sense of soundstage layering, construction and scale that you might hear from an amp with more power and/or superior components, such as Denon’s own step-up X2700H.

This is so obvious when you’re talking about a relatively low-spec AVR that I wouldn’t normally mention it. But comparing the X1700H with Denon’s costlier models is more pertinent than usual, thanks to the peculiar situation where anyone who wants more than a single integrated 4K/120 HDMI input (rather than going for an optional external switcher) currently has to choose this one.

It’s worth adding that you could connect 4K/120Hz sources directly to your TV if it has multiple 4K/120Hz- capable HDMIs, and then output the sound from your TV using eARC. But that’s a much less elegant solution.

2

Two-channel test

From a pure sound quality perspective, this Denon’s stereo musical abilities reveal its relatively affordable status a little more than its surround sound playback. Staging is particularly good with plenty of wide but controlled separation and vocals are warm but still clean and convincingly contextualised within the rest of the mix. But there’s a less cohesive feel to lower frequencies with music, and a lack of real musical insight – an example of what spending more might get you.

Denon AVR-X1700H Review

4. The six HDMI inputs are separated into two trios: 8K and non-8K capable

One last little niggle is that switching between video modes – perhaps when firing up an HDR game from the Xbox Series X’s SDR dashboard – can be a little long- winded and flickery. I noticed this particularly with Samsung TVs, thanks to their constant attempts to establish advanced connections with any ‘new’ devices they detect. Things do settle down eventually, however, and in any case the X1700H is far from the worst offender in this respect.

For an AVR that offers 4K/120Hz, VRR, ALLM and 8K passthrough on three HDMis for £, such irritations aren’t deal-breakers. In fact, the biggest problem with the X1700H from Denon’s perspective is that it arguably makes its more premium siblings feel either a bit out of date or, if you add in the cost of their optional HDMI 2.1 AVS-3 ‘switcher’, a little expensive

3

Verdict

9 Total Score
Denon AVR-X1700H Review

Multiple cutting-edge HDMIs that actually work plus good all-round performance make Denon’s latest AVR great value – especially if you have games consoles in your system.

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 Multiple cutting-edge HDMIs that actually work plus good all-round performance make Denon’s latest AVR great value – especially if you have games consoles in your system.

4

SPECIFICATIONS

DOLBY ATMOSyes
DTS:Xyes
IMAX ENHANCEDno
MULTICHANNEL INPUTno
MULTICHANNEL PRE-OUTno
POWER OUTPUT (CLAIMED)7 x 80W (8 ohm, 20Hz- 20kHz, 0.08% THD)
MULTIROOMYes. Zone 2 audio, plus HEOS
AV INPUTS 2 x optical digital audio inputs; 2 x analogue stereo audio inputs; MM phono input
HDMI6 x inputs (3 x HDMI 2.1); 1 x output
VIDEO UPSCALINGYes. To 8K/60
DIMENSIONS434(w) x 339(d) x 215(h) mm
WEIGHT8.6kg
ALSO FEATURINGEthernet; Wi-Fi; two-way Bluetooth; AM/FM tuner (DAB model also available); Apple AirPlay 2; HeOS streaming and multiroom; HDMI eARC; Audyssey MultEQ XT with Dynamic EQ/volume plus Audyssey App support; FLAC/ ALAC/WAV/DSD lossless file playback; dual subwoofer outputs; headphone output; USB input; setup assistant; works with Alexa/Siri/Google Assistant
5

TESTED WITH

CALL OF DUTY – BLACK OPS COLD WAR:

The sixth entry in COD’s covert operations first-person shooter series can be played in 4K HDR at 60fps on both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (with ray-tracing), or at 120fps  (without ray-tracing). The 4K/60 feeds, in particular, look stunning, and the game is plenty of fun too.

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